Ebrocalypse Now

Wels Catfish

February/March 2012 .  Spain  .  Rio Ebro

Martin Sack

The target: The river Ebro in Spain. My partner: Theo, since many years my fishing fellow with extreme intentions. The equipment: Off-road vehicle, dinghy with motor, fishing tackle, bivvys and outdoor facilities. The time: Four weeks. Responsibilities: None.

The highways brought us continuous to the south of Europe. The 4×4 drove over roads with crushed rock along the river. I was back in a landscape which I called meantime my second home. It was in fact really dusty and hot – for Spain at this time not common. One week before in this region had been frosty weather all day and now the thermometer showed around fifteen degrees Celsius.

Four weeks fishing in the beginning of spring. This had always been the most exiting time at the Ebro. If the water temperature had gained 8°C and warmed up more and more every day, the big cats prepared themselves for the spawning period and needed now a big part of the yearly food. But this period often had been interrupted by heavy rain or the melting snow in the Pyrenees, some times the river swelled several meters in short time. The fishing was always a risk and really inconstant. We walked knowingly on a thin red line.

Water level and current were perfect, the water had reached the magic temperature of 8°C. We were a long time good working team and knew where we now had to build up our camp at the river bank. Then we brought out our baits with the dingy and pitched our tents in short time. We caught two small cats and spent a calm night on our camp beds. It should have been the last recreative hours of our trip.

When the planned strategy of fishing hit the mark at first go, you will fishing on with full throttle. The first day started awesome, the second was even better. Already at the third day we had caught eighteen cats more than 2m and the fist fish more tan 2,30m. Nobody could know what will happen in future and now we were direct at the fish. For these magic moments we were here!

We brought alternately rigs out in the water or fought with cats. At day and night. By calm sunny weather or heavy sandstorm. We experienced days with 28°C maximum temperature and nights with -7°C minimum temperature. But one thing didn’t occur: rain and melting snow.

At day number twelve we had full moon. We expected a downturn of the catch orgy in the phase of waning moon and had fished to this time without any breaks. Sleeping and eating had become to an absolutely minor matter. But the following days disproved our theory impressively.

The rates of takes got more intense. Double fights were hard and fast rule. Sometimes it was not possible to bring all four baits into the water. And when we managed to do it we had treble takes. By fighting with a cat we had to handle another rod, decide which cat was the biggest and put the rod with the smaller fish back in the pod. In one very exiting moment two rods knocked down in the same second and the line was running from the closed reel brake. Fortunately we could bank on our tackle hundred percent. Another time it was not possible to put the rod into the pod before getting a take. In these moments we just did the job. We freed fishes less than 2m quickly from the hook, measured and noted them. We wore the big cats with concentration and hoped that we had enough time for making pictures. Not seldom I hold one or two cats with my hands in the water for the time Theo fought with a third one. We measured and photographed all fishes directly and put them only for a short moment out of the water.

The days merged with the nights fluently. We fought ourselves with shirts bathing trunks through the cat stocks. We skeltered in winter clothing’s at night out of our bivvys and unfreezed our gloves in the Ebro before landing a cat. Or battled against icy and slipping reel brakes of our normally very reliable Fin Nors. We braved wind, dust and a drought which fractured our hands and foots in combination with sunburn, coldness and wounds of bites. We were under adrenaline and slept in every calm second. One time I dived at a frosty morning without gloves to catch a cat of 2,30m which we had lost by the first try of landing. We fished as a team and when necessary also alone – when the partner was on an exploration tour or needed an urgent brake. Theo managed this one time until my return successfully with a hook in his hand. We both had the same aim: The traps had to be set all the time. At the best day we caught 43 cats, 8 of them more than 2m!

By the end of the trip every one of us faced his physical and mental limits, but at the last day it was a hard thing to move home. We abolished our camp in the beginning continual rain.

We looked back to a result which we could only believe because we had experienced it on ourselves. Two men. 24 days. 441 cats. 95 more than 2m! For such a thing we had never hoped for in our wildest dreams and we never read about a matchable story from all catfish waters.

Similar to all trips we didn’t leashed cats. We took pictures only when possible and could affirm to leave no fish behind with serious injury.

All had worked perfect together for an unusual long period. The weather, the water level and the constant temperature. Our knowledge of the river, our strategy and equipment. And the most important thing: An all challenges meeting team work!

We don’t treat this tour as the benchmark of all things. This is the cat-trip of our life, probably for ever. But this will not allay our ambition and fun. We will be back at the Ebro in short time! May save the common sense this water for the future!

The teams „Black-Cat“-Monty, Ledi, Frank und Dacian spent some of the time with us. Many thanks for your fantastic companion! We won’t forget the original Spanish paella prepared at the river bank!

Statistic

Angler: Theo, Martin

Cats more than 1m: 441

Cats more than 2m: 95

Carps: 21 (6-20kg)

1.Day:2                                                                                                                                                                                                                               1.56 – 1.20

2.Day:11                                                                                                                                                         2.212.102.092.032.00 – 1.70 – 1.70 – 1.68 – 1.60 – 1.50 – 1.40

3.Day:14                                                                                                                                                                                                                2.282.272.152.132.052.02 – 1.96 – 1.92 – 1.80 – 1.73 – 1.67 – 1.65 – 1.34 – 1.32

4.Day:19                                                                                                                                                                                                                    2.322.272.182.142.142.072.00 – 1.87 – 1.81 – 1.77 – 1.77 – 1.62 – 1.58 – 1.45 – 1.45 – 1.40 – 1.31– 1.25 – 1.20

5.Day:14                                                                                                                                                                                                                    2.302.202.102.012.002.00 – 1.85 – 1.78 – 1.66 – 1.59 – 1.45 – 1.42 – 1.40 – 1.30 –

6.Day:17                                                                                                                                                                                                                    2.322.08 – 1.96 – 1.95 – 1.85 – 1.85 – 1.84 – 1.82 – 1.81 – 1.76 – 1.74 – 1.73 – 1.72 – 1.70 – 1.66 – 1.40 – 1.08

7.Day:17                                                                                                                                                                                                                    2.252.122.082.042.022.00 – 1.99 – 1.93 – 1.81 – 1.78 – 1.73 – 1.73 – 1.68 – 1.65 – 1.64 – 1.63 – 1.62

8.Day:18                                                                                                                                                                                                                   2.162.112.092.08 – 1.94 – 1.94 – 1.92 – 1.84 – 1.80 – 1.79 – 1.58 – 1.57 – 1.55 – 1.52 – 1.49 – 1.39 – 1.39 – 1.35

9.Day:18                                                                                                                                                                                                                    2.342.302.172.072.06 – 1.96 – 1.89 – 1.86 – 1.82 – 1.71 – 1.70 – 1.65 – 1.65 – 1.62 – 1.60 – 1.43 – 1.40 – 1.25

10.Day:5                                                                                                                                                                                                                    2.202.072.01 – 1.91 – 1.73

11.Day:3                                                                                                                                                                                                                        2.16 – 1.97 – 1.89

12.Day:16                                                                                                                                                                                                                   2.312.302.222.162.03 – 1.97 – 1.90 – 1.81 – 1.78 – 1.77 – 1.65 – 1.54 – 1.50 – 1.33 – 1.30 – 1.25

13.Day:10                                                                                                                                                                                                                             2.322.302.232.16 – 1.97 – 1.80 – 1.60 – 1.47 – 1.45 – 1.43

14.Day:14                                                                                                                                                                                                                  2.302.242.152.142.122.09 – 1.99 – 1.96 – 1.89 – 1.89 – 1.64 – 1.63 – 1.56 – 1.36

15.Day:43                                                                                                                                                                                                                   2.312.192.182.102.092.082.04  – 2.03 – 1.98 – 1.96  – 1.93 – 1.89 – 1.88 – 1.86 – 1.85  – 1.80  – 1.78 – 1.75 – 1.75 – 1.74 – 1.73 – 1.73 – 1.73 – 1.72 – 1.70 – 1.68 – 1.62 – 1.62 – 1.61 – 1.61 – 1.60 – 1.55 – 1.55 – 1.52 – 1.52 – 1.52 – 1.51 – 1.47  – 1.43 – 1.42 – 1.40 – 1.30 – 1.28

16.Day:23                                                                                                                                                                                                                  2.162.112.10 – 1.94 – 1.93 – 1.90 – 1.89 – 1.83 – 1.80 – 1.80 – 1.80 – 1.78 – 1.74 – 1.63 – 1.54 – 1.49 – 1.46 – 1.44 – 1.42 – 1.40 – 1.36 – 1.27 – 1.25

17.Day:24                                                                                                                                                                                                                  2.362.212.012.01 – 1.98 – 1.96 – 1.95 – 1.92 – 1.92 – 1.81 – 1.80 – 1.77 – 1.76 – 1.75 – 1.73 – 1.69 – 1.68 – 1.67 – 1.65 – 1.58 – 1.57 – 1.46 – 1.22 – 1.21

18.Day:26                                                                                                                                                                                                                  2.122.062.022.02 – 1.97 – 1.93 – 1.86 – 1.86 – 1.82 – 1.82 – 1.80 – 1.80 – 1.78 – 1.77 – 1.75 – 1.74 – 1.73 – 1.70 – 1.70 – 1.63 – 1.62 – 1.59 – 1.53 – 1.51 – 1.38 – 1.29

19.Day:23                                                                                                                                                                                                                   2.282.262.00 – 1.96 – 1.95 – 1.85 – 1.83 – 1.79 – 1.75 – 1.73 – 1.71 – 1.70 – 1.66 – 1.65 – 1.63 – 1.62 – 1.58 – 1.53 – 1.47 – 1.46 – 1.45  – 1.28 – 1.01

20.Day:39                                                                                                                                                                                                                  2.272.172.152.03 – 1.98 – 1.96 – 1.94 – 1.84 – 1.82 – 1.82 – 1.81 – 1.81 –1.80 – 1.80 – 1.78 – 1.77 – 1.76 – 1.75 – 1.75 – 1.69 – 1.68 – 1.65 – 1.62 – 1.62 – 1.60 – 1.60 – 1.60 – 1.59 – 1.57 – 1.57 – 1.50 – 1.45 – 1.42 – 1.33 – 1.31 – 118 – 1.16 – 1.10 – 1.04

21.Day:15                                                                                                                                                                                                                2.232.07 – 1.86 – 1.83 – 1.78 – 1.68 – 1.65 – 1.62 – 1.60 – 1.55 – 1.50 – 1.47 – 1.42 – 1.25 – 1.21

22.Day:28                                                                                                                                                                                                                   2.212.01 – 1.99 – 1.89 – 1.88 – 1.72 – 1.71 – 1.67 – 1.65 – 1.65 – 1.64 – 1.63 – 1.63 – 1.61 – 1.60 – 1.58 – 1.54 – 1.53 – 1.52 – 1.52 – 1.50 – 1.50 – 1.49 – 1.48 – 1.43 – 1.15 – 1.10 – 1.01

23.Day:15                                                                                                                                                                                                                   1.95 – 1.92 – 1.90 – 1.85 – 1.85 – 1.83 – 1.79 – 1.74 – 1.60 – 1.55 – 1.50 – 1.45 – 1.44 – 1.36 -1.18                                                                                                                                                                                                         24.Day:27                                                                                                                                                     2.242.182.172.112.05 – 1.94 – 1.94 – 1.92 – 1.86 – 1.85 – 1.77 – 1.75 – 1.75 – 1.75 – 1.74 – 1.71 – 1.70 – 1.68 – 1.67 – 1.65 – 1.54 – 1.53 – 1.52 – 1.45 – 1.45 – 140 – 136

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